The newly built career site aims to cultivate a sense of community, providing access to career resources for students and mentorship from diverse professionals.
OAKLAND, Calif., Sept. 29, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Today SMASH, a national nonprofit dedicated to providing impact-driven STEM programming and college prep for students of color in grades K-12, launches Career Catalyst, a new digital platform to virtually connect BIPOC students with tech professionals, provide career development resources and develop equitable pathways to STEM-related careers.
As part of its kickoff, Career Catalyst will be partnering with Elite Gaming Live (EGL), the competitive gaming league for grades 3-12, to connect students in over 30 schools around the country with Career Catalyst programming. The partnership builds on EGL's existing work, which utilizes esports as a means to cultivate the next generation of scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians.
Early exposure to mentorship and a network that understands the challenges of being underrepresented can be career-changing for students of color. One recent Pew survey finds 54% of Black Americans report that if young Black people had more visible examples of diverse high achievers in STEM fields, they would be more likely to pursue college degrees in STEM. Of the total U.S. STEM workforce, Black employees make up 9% and Latinx employees only 7% – and education quality and access are important factors behind this disparity in representation. Diverse role models and mentors can serve as critical support to help guide students through the challenges of their early educational development, fostering a sense of cultural identity and forging a stronger foundation for career trajectory.
"Career Catalyst was built to provide students with the mentorship and guidance needed early on to support their academic journey and career development. When students of color are able to connect with professionals who share lived experiences and help them feel represented, this significantly improves education outcomes," says Dr. Hassan Brown, CEO of Career Catalyst.
Career Catalyst will offer a platform for students to build technical skills and social capital, as well as foster occupational identity. Key components include:
- Multimedia on topics ranging from a day in the life of career professionals and the various pathways to break into their fields, to engaging stories about individual career journeys across STEM fields and other related industries
- Opportunities for students to be advised by STEM professionals, facilitating one-on-one advice and mentorship alongside career-specific courses
- Culturally-relevant educational materials for both students to engage with individually and teachers to incorporate into curriculums
"I'm excited by the opportunity to work with Career Catalyst and further support SMASH's mission to provide long-term and transformative educational opportunities to students of color," says Kerwin Rent, Founder and CEO of Elite Gaming Live. "Through our partnership, we're hoping to inspire a new generation of students to drive the next decade of innovations in STEM."
To learn more about Career Catalyst and engage in the platform, please visit careercatalyst.org.
SMASH was launched on the University of California, Berkeley campus in 2004 by Freada Kapor Klein in response to the lack of diversity in tech, coupled with the fabled lack of STEM interest and abilities within communities of color. SMASH is a free, multi-year STEM-intensive program that takes a long-term and holistic approach to developing low-income, first generation college students who will not only thrive in STEM careers but use their skills to effectuate change in their communities. Its mission is to build a strong, diverse and socially conscious workforce by leveling the playing field through academic learning. To date, SMASH has provided over 50,000 hours of education and its scholars have a 100% high school graduation rate. For more information, visit smash.org.
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